mazel

Alternative Spellings

mazels, mazl, mazal

Definitions

  • congratulations
  • luck (good)

Example Sentences

  • "We've never had any mazel with that Volskwagen" (Glinert)
  • [After someone announces good news, like getting engaged]: "I wish you much mazel and hatzlocha."
  • [After someone announces good news:] "Mazel!" [short for mazel tov]
  • "I finally got the pickle jar open!" "Mazel!" [cheerful but mildly mocking tone]
  • Text message exchange among Jews in Los Angeles: "I just experienced my first earthquake" "Mazels"

Languages of Origin

Textual Hebrew, Yiddish, Modern Hebrew, Ladino

Etymology

מזל mazal, mazl. Biblical Hebrew meaning: constellation of stars (associated with idol worship). "Through the influence of astrology, the term came to be associated with a person's fate... and fortune" (Steinmetz, Usage). In Yiddish, Ladino, and other languages: luck.

Who Uses This

Religious: Jews who are engaged in religious observance and have some Jewish education
Orthodox: Jews who identify as Orthodox and observe halacha (Jewish law)
Jews: Jews of diverse religious backgrounds and organizational involvements
Younger: Jews in their 30s or younger

Regions

North America

Dictionaries

The New Joys of Yiddish, by Leo Rosten and Lawrence Bush (New York, 2003[1968]).
Yiddish and English: A Century of Yiddish in America, by Sol Steinmetz (Tuscaloosa, 1986).
The Joys of Hebrew, by Lewis Glinert (New York, 1992).
Frumspeak: The First Dictionary of Yeshivish, by Chaim Weiser (Northvale, 1995).
Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms, by Sol Steinmetz (Lanham, MD, 2005).
The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, by Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic, (Philadelphia, 2001)

Notes

The "luck" usage is common among Orthodox Jews, and the "short for mazel tov" usage is common among young Jews, as a Jewish instance of abbreves (slang abbreviations). "Mazels" is common among young Jews, especially women. What Happens Live with Andy Cohen featured a segment: "Mazel of the day" (alongside "Jackhole of the day"), where "mazel" is used as short for "mazel tov" (congratulations).

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